AUSTIN (CBS Houston) — With 75 of the expected 300 wild donkeys roaming Big Bend State Park already having been terminated for being declared threats to the park’s ecosystem, donkey advocates have urged the state to halt the killings.
More than 100,000 signatures have been collected in an effort on the part of donkey enthusiasts to cease any more indiscriminate killings of wild donkeys at Big Bend State Park, originally based on what Texas Parks and Wildlife officials labeled as a significant threat to the park’s ecosystem as they try to introduce new animals to the environment. They were presented to Capitol officials Wednesday, hoping to find an alternative to avoid the fate of the 75 donkeys that have been killed to this point.
“It really hurts me to know the money I’m paying for my camp sites and entry fees are going to fund to kill an animal I hold dear to my heart,” Waco-based veterinarian and donkey owner Jennifer Garretson told CBS Houston. “These same parks are brutally killing these donkeys.”
The two-year issue surrounding the wild donkeys has reached a tipping point as proponents of an alternative, such as the Wild Burro Protection League, have been forceful in saying that no study has been performed on the ecological effect that the wild donkeys have on Big Bend’s ecosystem. Another matter concerns the matter in which the donkeys are terminated, preferring to indiscriminately shoot the donkeys in the body on site, and letting them die in pain instead of shooting them in the head, Garretson said.
“I think it’s inhumane and intolerable.”
Park and Wildlife officials contend that the estimated 300 wild donkeys across the 315,000-acre West Texas state park are not native to the area, thus making them a threat to the environment.
“We try to keep nature natural. Because the feral burros are not native, we do not feel that they have a place in our state parks,” Parks and Wildlife Spokesman Kevin Good told the Houston Chronicle. “I don’t see our agency changing its policy regarding non-native and exotic and invasive species.”
Still, the matter remains frustrating for pro-donkey supporters, Garretson telling CBS Houston that Park and Wildlife officials have “closed their ears and eyes to other alternatives.” Even with Texas Gov. Rick Perry saying that he believed the Parks and Wildlife people would make the right decision, Garretson doesn’t believe that to be the case, adding that the initiative would also include the termination of sheep, elk, cougars, and bobcats.
“They, as humans, are doing more damage to the ecosystem by destroying both predator and prey,” said Garretson.
Messages left by CBS Houston for Good were not immediately returned.